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Forthcoming Book Draws Attention To Ifill Before Debate

Gwen Ifill

Gwen Ifill speaks during a taping of 'Meet the Press' on May 25, 2008. Alex Wong, Getty Images for 'Meet the Press' hide caption

toggle caption Alex Wong, Getty Images for 'Meet the Press'

Right now, atop the news site in size 30, boldfaced font sits the headline: VP DEBATE MODERATOR RELEASING 'AGE OF OBAMA' BOOK ON INAUGURATION DAY.

Ifill, moderator and managing editor of PBS' Washington Week and senior correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, is set to moderate tomorrow's much-awaited VP debate between Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Joe Biden.

She also has a forthcoming book about, in part, Barack Obama's influence on American politics, which is set for release on Jan. 20, 2009.

The McCain campaign was previously unaware of the book, according to Fox News' Greta Van Susteren. Some conservatives are crying foul, saying the book presents a conflict of interest for Ifill.

But according to blogger Judd Legum: "The debate moderators were agreed to on August 6. Ifill's book was reported in the Associated Press two weeks earlier."

On today's show, Democratic strategist and News & Notes regular Donna Brazile said she was "offended" by questions of Ifill's impartiality. "The book's not even out yet," she said. "Attacking the press has become a central front in the strategy of winning votes," she added. Brazile also said no one would question presidential moderator Jim Lehrer in the same way, even though he is of the same race as John McCain.

Judy Woodruff of PBS came to Ifill's defense today, saying, "Gwen Ifill is a reporter. She is not someone who delivers opinion and I know that that is not the type of book she is involved in."

This is how the publisher describes the book:

In THE BREAKTHROUGH, veteran journalist Gwen Ifill surveys the American political landscape, shedding new light on the impact of Barack Obama's stunning presidential campaign and introducing the emerging young African American politicians forging a bold new path to political power.

Ifill argues that the Black political structure formed during the Civil Rights movement is giving way to a generation of men and women who are the direct beneficiaries of the struggles of the 1960s. She offers incisive, detailed profiles of such prominent leaders as Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and U.S. Congressman Artur Davis of Alabama, and also covers up-and-coming figures from across the nation. Drawing on interviews with power brokers like Senator Obama, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and many others, as well as her own razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict and the "black enough" conundrum, Ifill shows why this is a pivotal moment in American history.

THE BREAKTHROUGH is a remarkable look at contemporary politics and an essential foundation for understanding the future of American democracy.

UPDATE: Ifill Responds: "The proof is in the pudding."

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